Greening Our Operations

In addition to the consumer-facing sustainability efforts of our eDifference® platform, we work continuously to reduce waste and leverage our supply chain, including using sustainable sourcing to lower our costs and improve our operational efficiency.

Waste Reduction

In 2017, after more than a decade of monitoring, tracking and improving on our waste reduction efforts, we made a public commitment to a specific, long-term waste reduction goal of reaching zero landfill waste company wide by 2025. We believe we are the first in our industry to publicly declare such an objective, with the goal of elevating the conversation about waste reduction for consideration in our industry.

To achieve this goal, we are beginning with a waste reduction analysis across our divisions, which we began conducting in several divisions in 2017 and are continuing in 2018. This information will be used to create a baseline and develop a detailed action plan.

In 2017, following their 2016 waste diversion analysis and implementation of process improvement plans, our Inland Empire Division was able to divert 80% of their construction site waste to recycling rather than going to landfill for the second year running. This is well above the 65% diversion rate required by the California Green Building Standards Code. The division’s goal is to be an early internal leader for the Company by reaching zero waste over the next several years. Toward this end, they are taking a two-pronged approach: first, maintain their high diversion rate achieved as a result of their initial improvements, and second, reduce the initial volume of construction waste introduced to our home sites in the first place. To support this strategy, in 2017, the division implemented tighter material counts for lumber orders prior to delivery and increasing value engineering of home designs to achieve more efficient use of materials while also reducing costs. On a per-home basis, this change resulted in 336 pounds less concrete waste, 336 pounds less wood waste and 112 pounds less landfill waste across the division. Several of our divisions utilize similar methods to minimize the generation of waste. For example, our Florida divisions have implemented a number of operational and materials ordering process improvements that reduce waste and support increased consistency, including using panelized walls, floors and roofs, pre-cutting sheathing and select lumber off site and employing Norbord TallWall exterior sheathing, which is designed to reduce waste in homes with high ceilings.

Leveraging Our Supply Chain

Our supply chain sustainability strategies are an effective multiplier and extension of our internal initiatives. We select our strategic partners based in part on a shared commitment to conserving natural resources and work closely with them to ensure that the materials that go into our homes support our sustainability values.

For example, we took an early lead in our industry over a decade ago by requiring our lumber suppliers to provide us with wood that is not sourced from endangered forests or is certified by recognized sustainable forestry management programs, like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) program. We have also acted as a public proponent for the preservation of old-growth national forests in partnership with the NRDC.

We also seek out products that provide independent sustainability assessment, like the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Product Program (C2C). C2C provides an independent, third-party assessment of a product’s performance against rigorous standards and evaluates both a company’s products and operations based on material health, material reutilization, renewable energy, water stewardship and social fairness. A number of our national suppliers participate in the C2C certification process, from our flooring partner, Shaw®, to our solar panel partner, SunPower®, to our paint partner, Sherwin-Williams®.

Model Home Energy Tracking

In order to reduce our operational carbon footprint, we track and manage energy consumption in the hundreds of model homes used as showcases for our home designs nationwide. These ENERGY STAR® certified homes are built to the same quality standards as all of our new homes. Following an extensive audit and improvement process in 2012 that resulted in a 10% energy consumption reduction in the first year, we continue to make our model homes even more efficient by tracking the average energy spend per model home on an ongoing basis. As a result of this 2012 process improvement, we estimate that we save approximately 2.5 million kWh each year, the equivalent of more than 1,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.